Jim Thome is no longer able to play first base, so now that interleague play is over, he’s limited to pinch-hitting duties. The future Hall of Famer hasn’t fared too well in that role to date, going just 1-for-16 with one homer and 11 strikeouts, so the Phillies are now open to setting him free.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com was told by American League clubs that the Phillies have made Thome available for trade to clubs that need a designated hitter. The veteran slugger would prefer to play for the White Sox or Twins, but there’s not a clear fit with either club right now.
While Thome served a lengthy stint on the disabled list this season due to a back injury, he recently showcased what he could do if given regular at-bats out of the DH spot by hitting .333 (12-for-36) with four homers, two doubles and 14 RBI over nine games during interleague play.
Thome is only making a modest $1.25 million this season, so he’d be a worthwhile gamble for a contender. The 41-year-old is currently tied with Sammy Sosa for seventh all-time with 609 career home runs.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.